1957 Nomad Restoration

I bought the car back in 2000 after finding it advertised in the local Ad Sack. It was last titled in New Hampshire. They must use salt on the roads up there in the winter because this car had serious rust issues. But because the Nomad is relatively rare, I decided to tackle it. I initially ordered all the floor pan repair panels and the rocker panel for the passenger side. It then sat in various places on my property until I moved it into my newly built shop in 2002. I disassembled what was there and made an inventory of what I had and what was missing/needed. It languished sitting in the shop until 2006 when I actually began the bodywork. I tackled the passenger side first, replacing the door lower inner panel and most of the skin, floor pans, rocker panel and floor bracing all the way back to the cargo deck. Work stopped in early 2007 as other priorities took over and it languished again until March 2016 when the urge to resume work returned. It took a couple of days just to clean off all the stuff that had ended up in, on top, beside, and underneath the car.

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Passenger side door repair:

Passenger side front floorboard, door pillar and rocker panel repair:

Fast forward to March 2016. Work has finally resumed. I had worked along the passenger side quarter panel and inner wheel well but realized I couldn't finish this work until the cargo deck, spare tire well, tail pan and rear crossbrace/body mount had been repaired. It's all in bad shape so this is going to take awhile.

Removal of the spare tire well, tail pan, rear crossbrace and spare tire side panels:

Rebuilding the rear crossmemmbers/braces: The assembly consisting of the rear crossbrace, the crossbrace in front of the spare tire well and the side braces connecting the two crossbraces was removed. The crossbrace in front of the spare tire well was then repaired.

Up next was the rear crossmember replacement. This assembly consists of the rear crossmember itself, side supports and "scoops" that form the rear body mounts. Fortunately rear crossmembers are reproduced and there are two versions: one with the hinge pockets, hinge bolt plates and cages and one without. To save about $200 I bought the latter but then had to install my own hinge pockets and hardware. The following pictures show the installation of the hinge pockets and the rear body mount "scoops". The scoops were fabricated using pieces of various width 1/8" thick flat plate:

With the rear crossmember fitting properly, it was time to rebuild the passenger side tailgate opening lower corner. It was completely rusted out but fortunately the drivers side was intact. I reproduced the corner using five individual template pieces and then welded them in place after cutting out the old section to good metal:

And now, the daunting task of rebuilding the tailgate. These are available for $1,000 plus shipping. In an attempt to save some more money, I decided to rebuild it. One benefit of rebuilding it is that I could make the tailgate fit exactly to the opening. I first loosely installed the tailgate. Overall, the fit was good considering the amount of work that had taken place so far. I noted the gap along the right side was not even, increasing near the middle. And along the bottom, there was no gap near the middle. It turned out the tailgate was originally manufactured with those edges. They would obviously need to be corrected. The tailgate rebuild consisted ofrebuilding the outer braces/hinge mounting points, rebuilding the inner braces, rebuilding the lower inner panel and rebuilding the lower inner corners:

At this point, I test fitted the tailgate. All was not well...I had a huge gap along the bottom. I had obviously chosen the wrong angle for the hinge mount point so this had to be modified. The new angle did the trick.

With the hinge mount points corrected, work proceeded on rebuilding the rest of the lower inner panel:

With the inner lower panel rebuilt it was time to rebuild the lower outer skin. First, the tailgate was installed to confirm the lower gap. Then the old skin was removed and replaced with two sections. The raised portions where the chrome "bananas" mounted to were retained. A lot of tweaking was required to get the proper gap but finally the job was done, at least the bottom of the tailgate.

Up next is the driver side quarter panel fin tip and the inner portion of the panel adjacent to the tailgate opening. The tip was damaged due to a prior collision and had to be replaced. I found a cut-out tip at a swap meet and even though it was a passenger side tip I was able to make it work for the driver side. The inner panel adjacent to the tailgate opening was rusted badly. There were reproduction panels for the wagon but not the Nomad so I had to repair it. With the compound curves, it was done with a lot of individual segments.

Fortunately the passenger side quarter panel by the tailgate was easier to repair. The panel was stripped, treated with naval jelly, antenna hole filled in, and primed.

The passenger quarter panel and wheel well was completed next. This involved repairing the inner wheel well tub, installing the front/top/rear wheel well panels, installing the rubber seal between the wheel well and quarter panel, replacing the rear lower section of the quarter panel and then installing the quarter panel.

With the passenger quarter panel complete the spare tire well was installed next. It is an assembly that consists of 6 separate panels. I bought 5 replacement pieces and repaired the 6th...the panel that forms the roof of the tire well and attaches to the rear edge of the cargo floor. No pictures of the assembly process but here's one of the assembled and installed spare tire well.

The final stretch...work begins on the driver side, essentially a repeat of the passenger side. The quarter panel was removed first so that the wheel well and inner quarter panel could be rebuilt. The last photo shows repairs to the inner wheel well tub where the rear seat back rest pivot bracket bolts to the wheel well. It required two iterations to get the back rest positioned properly.